City kid’s love of nature started with TV’s Wild Kingdom
As a teenager growing up in the middle of Chicago, Christine Mundy was fascinated with the natural world as it was depicted in television shows like Wild Kingdom. Her love for and fascination with the complexity and beauty of the natural world inspired her pursuit of a degree in environmental science.
“Having grown up in a big city, where people are so disconnected from the natural world, I know how easy it is for people to destroy what they don’t even know exists,” explains Mundy. “The natural world continues to amaze me, and I want to further our knowledge and appreciation of it. I also want to protect it.”
Early in her career, Mundy’s love of science and natural systems found her collecting water quality samples in shellfish harvesting areas on Florida’s east coast. In 1989 when she began working with the St. Johns River Water Management District, her role focused on data analysis rather than field work. Fast forward 10 years in her career, and armed with significant geographic information system (GIS) expertise, Mundy transitioned in the district’s GIS/Information Technology office, gaining both technical and managerial experience.
Today, in her role as a bureau chief, she manages more than 70 staff who are responsible for the collection, quality assurance and lab analysis of the district’s hydrologic, water quality and hydrogeological data as well as its well drilling program.
“In 2015, I was selected for my current position as bureau chief for the division that is responsible for field data collection, so I had circled back to my professional roots, in a way,” she shares.
While her career has shifted over time, one thing has remained constant: learning. Of learning new skills, learning new approaches to old problems, and learning how to push the boundaries of her capabilities, Mundy says, “Lifelong learning has not only allowed me to advance, but it also keeps me interested in my work.”
It’s a mantra that continues to guide her career. To young women considering a similar path, she recommends following personal interests to gain experience, sharing that, “As you gain experience, you will probably learn that you have capabilities you didn’t realize you had.”
It’s data-driven science that fuels the district’s work — data which will also have immense value for future generations. “The data we collect is not only valuable today; it’s a lasting resource that will help answer questions we haven’t even thought to ask. Our work today will serve the public and environment for generations to come.”